BBC to discuss sacked World Service pair with union

The BBC has reopened the case of the two World Service journalists sacked in February, by agreeing to meet the NUJ to discuss their dismissal this week.

A national conference – a high-level meeting between senior BBC and NUJ officials, usually called by mutual agreement when other avenues have been exhausted – was due to take place on Thursday.

BBC head of personnel Stephen Dando will meet NUJ broadcast organiser Paul McLaughlin and BBC NUJ official Pierre Vicary.

The NUJ had requested a conference over the sacking of BBC Arabic Service producers Abdul-Hadi Jiad and Adli Hawwari , which breached the BBC’s own disciplinary procedures.

McLaughlin said the conference was a positive move.

“We hope that meeting in a formal setting will address our concerns, as part of our avoidance of disputes procedure,” he told Press Gazette.

However, the BBC insisted the conference “was about policies and principles” rather than the individual sackings.

“The BBC will reaffirm its commitment to the policies and procedures we’d already agreed with the NUJ and confirm that in dismissing the journalists, we took exceptional action in exceptional circumstances. It should not be seen as setting a precedent,” said a BBC World Service spokesman.

Meanwhile, the BBC chapel of the NUJ called a nationwide meeting to discuss the conference, as well as details of a forthcoming meeting with the corporation and BECTU on the issue of staff having to declare their political and financial interests on to an online database.

The unions are concerned that the intranet, where details will be kept, may not be sufficiently secure to prevent leaks.

They have asked members not to sign the declaration forms until they have thrashed out their concerns with the BBC.

Originally only managers and senior journalists were expected to declare interests. Other staff did so on a voluntary basis.

By Wale Azeez

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